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Indigo Sherway Gardens
I love the Indigo brand. I just love bookstores basically. Indigo bookstores have always attracted my attention; not just for the books and magazines, but also for the in-store customer experience and visual merchandising.

The retail landscape in the book market has been in a state of upheaval for a few years. Bricks-and-mortar storefronts have been competing with online powerhouses like Amazon; or they're just closing their doors. Indigo Books recently celebrated the opening of a new store after a couple of years of high-profile store closures in Toronto. The new Sherway Gardens store replaces a now-shuttered Chapters store adjacent to this Etobicoke shopping mall operated by Cadillac-Fairview. Sherway underwent and extensive expansion in 2016 — the new Indigo store is situated in new mall — while existing spaces are being renovated in preparation for the arrival of U.S.-based luxury retailers Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. Interestingly, Sherway's posh Holt Renfrew store will be closing; maybe the luxury goods market is tapped out in Etobicoke?

Indigo has been changing with the times too; greatly expanded gifts and decor departmetns now populate all of the store's main floor. You'll covet all of the usual stuff: shiny picture frames, throws, blankets, dinneware — all very sharply merchandised for an impulse purchase. Books, magazines and Indigo Kids are upstairs on level 2. It's a pleasant store really; some of the former Chapters staff have come along in the move to the new digs.
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La Maison Simons
Quebec-based retailer Simons just opened one of five new stores, part of an ambitious expansion across Canada, in Mississauga's Square One Shopping Centre. New stores will be coming to Yorkdale Shopping Centre and Scarborough Town Centre. It occupies the vacancy from Sears Canada. And it's big; two full floors of bright, shiny retail. The store impresses even before entering. From its exterior, you know this store is different. A grid-like pattern covers the bright white tiled exterior; tiny green and black triangles punctuate the surface. The architecture is thoroughly modern — a refreshing sight that makes up for the sad emptiness of the nearby shuttered Target Canada store. The tiled theme continues on walls throughout the interior.

I love a good retail experience. And Simons delivers. Menswear (on 2) is mid- to high-priced with some familiar brands (Adidas, Calvin Klein) to their own private-label brands. The menswear definitely has an urban sensibility, with loads of stylish looks. You can definitely put a great look together off these racks. Personal observation: black and white are the colours to wear for summer 2016. And it's a sporty athletic look too with lots of hoods, and sporty banding on pants and shirts. Workout at work without breaking a sweat. Eve, the in-store café (on 2), is a cool spot too. I loved it. More cool interiors, brightly coloured furnishings and bold art on the walls. And the menu is pretty good too with a modest selection of sharable bites and pastries. An outdoor rooftop patio awaits warm weather.

La Maison Simons is likely an unknown name to many outside Quebec. So go, there's new retail to be discovered beyond Bloor street.
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Union Pearson Express (UPX)
Toronto's airport rail link opened recently. Union Pearson Express (UPX) joins Canada's largest airport Pearson International to downtown Toronto on a dedicated rail line. The Union Station UPX terminal is pretty sweet. From identity, to interiors, to livery, creative comes from Canadian design powerhouse Tyler Brulé and Winkcreative from London. Winkcreative is familiar to locals, the agency designed Porter airlines identity at nearby Billy Bishop Airport in downtown Toronto. For UPX, Winkcreative upheld their sleek, modern, dignified design sensibility. The whole identity bears design cues to Canadian landscapes; the colour schemes feature rich autumnal earthy tones. Surfaces are finished in light blond wood and copper glazing. The effect is calming, yet a bit exciting too. The UPX terminal invites a sense of adventure, yet ease of mind. Chill out with a latté from Balzac's Coffee, pick up a gift from Drake General Store, or sip a pint from the Mill Street Brewery upstairs in their on-site pub. But with rail departures every 15 minutes, you'll have to arrive early to enjoy the amenities at UPX Union Station. It's worth it just to enjoy the atmosphere and soak in the anticipation of an adventure to begin.
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Freshii Energizes
Fresh, healthy food, convenient and affordable. The Freshii concept: Eat, energize. Freshii appeared in Toronto in 2005. Today, there are locations around town, including Pearson Int'l Airport. A recently opened location on Yonge St. near Roxborough in Rosedale is impressive. From the sidewalk the store is inviting - a large patio, and walls covered in plastic buxus-like vines. The leafy treatment continues on the walls inside the large store too. A Freshii-branded delivery bicycle welcomes customers. The space is bright, busy and sometimes noisy. A steady stream of yoga practitioners from local personal fitness studios file in and out of Freshii on Saturdays. Locals read the weekend papers, note-taking students sit at the communal table. It's a common sight across the city at countless coffee houses. Yet Freshii offers more than a cool vibe and a smooth latté — made possible by an in-store coffee bar courtesy of White Squirrel Coffee (of Trinity Bellwoods Park fame). Freshii's made-to-order salads, wraps, bowls and so much more are delicious — and so healthy. They really do energize! Recently the Yonge St. location featured a Saturday farmers' market on the patio with locally-sourced seasonal produce in abundance. This is a great spot for a quick drop-in or a longer lasting chill-out.
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Smart Charges Ahead
This Pattison billboard appeared on Queen St. East in downtown Toronto in summer 2014; it really struck me while I was driving by in my Rabbit. I love my Volkswagen Rabbit, but have always found Daimler's Smart fortwo to be outstanding. It's design compacted into a tight body with loads of appeal. And it's super-charged. The double-sided billboard features an sleek charging station on one panel, joined to the opposite panel by a coiled electric cord plugged into the car's charging port. Very cool. Very eye catching indeed. Simple headline too; this billboard really speaks for itself.
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Walt Disney
Walt Disney is one of the world's leading brands. Disney is a marketing powerhouse: the movie empire with Disney•Pixar, retailing, resort destinations around the world, a cruise line that sails to their own private island and brand extensions into the home — you can buy Disney interior paint for your little princess's fairytale castle. One of Emerson's valued clients and partners is Walt Disney Canada For several years I've worked on Disney projects: print ads, wholesale travel brochure inserts and direct mail. This current campaign appearing on the TTC got my attention: Disney wants you! Families, drivers, heroes; they're all wanted at Walt Disney World in Florida in the summer of 2014. The campaign is promoting money-saving offers on summer 2014 getaways. The posters prominently feature Disney thrill rides from the recently opened Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Magic Kingdom's new Fantasyland, to Test Track at EPCOT and Star Tours. Some of the imagery looks familiar to me; I've used them in Disney print ads. It was a happy sight to see this small campaign while on the subway recently. The type is strong, supported by great imagery. Simple design and strong messaging. Click here to see my online portfolio and samples from Dinsey, and other clients.
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I remain a big Starbucks fan. While I enjoy pleasant excursions to Te aro in Leslieville, Starbucks familiarity and brand consistency have my loyalty. It's that 'third place' concept — a place between home and work that I find so compelling. The Starbucks store may be a meeting place for friends, or a reenergizing pit stop. Any way, Starbucks connects with customers. The stores are rooted in community: just read the bulletin board in your local store to find stories about their community engagement. New stores and renovated locations are based on concepts that may speak to the brand's original heritage in Seattle, or to the local neighbourhood where they are placed, or regional influences that are evident in artwork and furniture selection. The brand explores new concepts that offer innovative spaces, hosting tasting events and community gatherings. In Toronto's Church-Wellseley neighbourhood, the local Starbucks recently underwent a substantial renovation. Completely rebuilt, the store's real heart is on the second floor loft space. Substantially enlarged, the space is zoned in three parts. A communal table offers work space for lattes and laptops; another area offers tables-for-two while an expanded space out back offers banquettes in a small inviting room. Throughout, floors are treated with rough-hewn repurposed hardwood. Edison light bulbs illuminate the communal table. And shelves are stock with fantastic antique silver tea and coffee pots and jars of coffee beans sit beside old library books. A picture gallery is hung salon-style, on the tall walls up to the loft. Hand-rendered lettering on a wall repeats the name of Starbucks' CEO, Howard Shultz's book: pour your heart into it. I could live in this store. While I tested out the new space shortly after the store reopened, curious LGBT locals walked through, scoping out the new environment —it literally felt like I was sitting in a Saturday afternoon open house, watching gay couples house hunting. It was all good. This store will definitely draw the local coffee crowd back for more.
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Air Canada Your World Awaits
Your world awaits with Air Canada. Launched in spring 2014, AC targeted international travellers with a new multi-platform campaign. With limited growth opportunities in the domestic market, they’re focusing more marketing dollars on global travellers who may fly AC as a bridge to and from overseas destinations. The airline recently added new destinations in South America and Turkey and strengthened existing routes, boosting international capacity by 20 percent. So far, the campaign is featured in newspaper and on transit; the campaign appeared on the TTC. Television ads will follow with the launch of the next season of The Amazing Race Canada. This campaign is sharp. Muted, multi-layered images feature recognizable urban scenes: the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bund, seamlessly overlayed on images of sophisticated, well-dressed travellers. Very aspirational. And I love the copy; indeed, is not travel an entrance to a new place? I love the sense of anticipation in the new tag line: Your World Awaits. Carry your curiosity along the way. JWT Canada is responsible for the branding strategy and roll-out. Well done. The campaign coincides with AC’s delivery of its first Boeing aircraft; the new energy-efficient replacement for their aging Boeing 767 fleet.
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Milk, not everybody drinks it, but we probably should. It's healthy. And this new campaign for milk producer Natrel, appearing in the PATH system below the streets of downtown Toronto may be the hook that will send busy workers to the dairy freezer at the urban fresh market on their way home. This is a great campaign that stopped me on my walk. I love it. Love the bright, friendly, tightly-cropped photography. And the type treatment is really lovely too. It looks a bit old-school. Hand-rendered, slightly rough edges. It looks authentic. Montreal's LG2 — and three other firms (Cohésion, CloudRaker and DentsuBos) contributed to this multi-million dollar brand repositioning effort. They were responsible for this integrated campaign for media, transit advertising, print and packaging. In the highly competitive — and crowded — grocery market, brand distinction is critical. Natrel is seeking differentiation with solid packaging and promotion, and of course, great-tasting dairy that's pure, filtered and naturally good. This campaign deserves a glass.
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Imagine a life of great wealth. Naturally, you'd employ a butler — and his name would likely be Alfred. Very British. Dutifully acting in your service, white-gloved of course, he would be required to service your drycleaning needs. Well, back to reality — you don't have a butler. Not to worry. Just join alfredservice.com. This storefront appeared recently in downtown Toronto in a former retail strip of closed-up pizza joints. But now, thanks to alfredservice, the space is sparkling clean and full of great looking branding. The store is a stand-alone, unsupervised drop-off/pick-up retail space for alfredservice members. Simply drop off your dirty things, use the alfred app to send your order, and return to pick up environmentally-friendly, freshly-cleaned shirts and trousers after Alfred kindly texts you. Need to shine your brogues? Alfred will take good care of you. This is definitely not your typical neighbourhood dry cleaner; it's customer- and street-friendly brand-building the way it should be done on every neighbourhood main street. Alfredservice appears in several downtown Toronto condominiums already, but this location on Church Street is Alfred's first retail storefront. Eye catching graphics, tasteful typography and bold signage will definitely make Alfred very popular.
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Yellow Pages Group (YPG)
This campaign appeared in Toronto in the summer of 2013. Creative from Leo Burnett and media and mobile applications provided by Starcom and Mediative. The Yellow Pages app targeted tech-smart millennials, enabling them to target specific location-based neighbourood businesses. Featured prominently across the city with billboard, in public transit and in daily newspapers, this campaign looked great. Loved the simplicity of the creative, great illustration and amusing headlines.

he campaign returned in summer 2014 with new creative headlines and graphics. The TTC subway station at St. George, a heavily-travelled downtown transfer station, was treated with wrapped columns, stariways and posters in the campaign's distinctive colours. This is a great refresh of an existing campaign.
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Girls Unstoppable
This is another showstopping campaign from Unilever-owned brand Dove. Called Girls Unstoppable, the campaign addresses the sensitive issues of body image and self-esteem among pre-teen girls who may feel discouraged participating in physical fitness. The goal of the campaign encourages dialogue between girls, their mothers and mentors nationwide through social media on Facebook. Agency Ogilvy is responsible for the outdoor installation. Stopped in traffic on Bloor St. recently, the sight of real running shoes pegged to a billboard struck my attention. The headline, surrounded by so many shoes, is brilliantly communicated and so effectively executed. The multi-coloured billboard featuring strung-up bathing suits offered more striking visual interest. Love it.
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Elections Ontario
Produced by Leo Burnett, Toronto for Elections Ontario in preparation for the 2011 provincial election. The cross-platform awareness campaign covered online, transit, and print; including a brochure mailed to every residence in the province called 'The Householder.' The campaign informed citizens of their democratic rights and responsibilities, how to become a registered voter and where to attend their local polling station. Polling stations featured posters, signage and ground-mounted wayfinding arrows. A brilliantly integrated campaign; I actually stopped and read the poster while entering my local parish church to vote. I've never done that at a polling station before. The attention to design actually made me feel better about getting out my vote. The campaign was recognized in Applied Arts magazine 2012 annual design awards issue in the Complete Design Program category. Well done.
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McDonald's Canada "Our Food. Your Questions" Campaign
Produced by digital media agency Tribal DDB Canada for McDonald's Canada restaurants turned the old-style customer Q&A model on its head. Engaging social media, customers were invited to ask McDonald's questions. Some inquiries were sharp, others not so smart, even off-putting — but often funny. And worthy of a double-take. It was an audacious campaign for being just so transparent and honest. It was a real dialogue with users. The campaign appeared on the Toronto Transit Commission subway system with extensive coverage. Design played a secondary role to strong concept and impactful messaging. Bold colour. But even bolder questions and answers.
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Interac Flash Campaign
Developed by Fuse Marketing Toronto, for Interac's new debit card-swiping service; Interac Flash saves time for users, eliminating the need to insert card, enter security code and wait. And wait. Interac users are empowered to exercise their inner superhero: leap to the front of the checkout in a flash, no need for loose change. The campaign appeared on the Toronto Transit Commission subway and surface transit system with extensive coverage. The posters looked great. Brilliant, expressive photography, amusing copy. Loved this campaign.
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GREAT Campaign
Developed by the U.K. government in 2012, the GREAT campaign is an ambitious multi-year marketing campaign aimed to show the world the benefits of living, visiting and investing in Great Britain. Great heritage, countryside, culture, innovation, knowledge, sport, music etc. The campaign launched globally with heavy promotion in the Toronto Transit Commission subway system. Clean typography (Gotham Bold), strong message and beautiful imagery. I'm an Anglophile and I loved this campaign; the large-scale subway poster of The British Museum (below) stopped me in my shoes. Great museum. Great campaign.
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